10 Subtle Signs You May Need a Vacation

This is the year to book that trip you’ve always longed to take.

Photo by Mario Klassen on Unsplash

1. You get all your creative thinking done right before bed.

The moment I climb under my covers and close my eyes at night, my creative brain starts working on overdrive. I’m constantly grabbing my phone and jotting down ideas in my notes app in order to revisit in the morning.

And it’s not only because I’m naturally more productive at night compared to the morning. It’s also largely due to the fact that I only ever let my mind slow down right before falling asleep. And it’s precisely during this almost “meditative” state that all my best thinking comes to me.

Which only goes to show that my brain is overworked during the day if the only time I can truly think creatively is right before bed. In fact, that’s the same process that produced this very article.

2. You’re experiencing some physiological symptoms of stress.

We all know that mental stress can manifest itself into physical ailments within the confines of our bodies. While I’m not suggesting that an A-type personality is responsible for a cancer diagnosis, I do know that I tend to suffer from headaches, stomach aches, and acid reflux when I’m particularly stressed.

It’s my body’s way of telling me that something is out of alignment and has to heal. So if you’re also experiencing the physical side effects of taking on too much this year, it may be an excellent opportunity to take yourself out of the game for a little while.

3. You wake up in the middle of the night worrying about things you can’t control.

Whether it’s filing your taxes or worrying about that person who won’t text you back, there are things (and people) in life that aren’t worth the rumination. If it’s not within your scope of control, worrying about these issues is truly futile and only serves as a distraction.

It may be a tasty bone to chew, but otherwise letting small issues keep you up at night only breeds more anxiety and robs you of precious, restful sleep.

4. You bring your book with you to read on the couch but don’t end up reading it.

This is what happens to me: I have every intention of cracking that book open and immersing myself into its story, but then I end up texting instead. Or binge watching Crave TV. I always mean well, but can’t seem to follow through. It’s a sophisticated and insidious form of self-sabotage because it’s so easy to justify that reading is a leisurely activity, just like getting lost in the wormhole of social media.

But that’s not the entire truth. Reading helps you create connections in your brain, enhances your vocabulary, and provides a creative escape. Instagram makes you feel bad about yourself and wastes a lot of your time, time you spend swimming in the comparison trap instead of venturing into new worlds.

5. Your default mode is work.

And when you’re finished working for the day, you clean your house. Or organize all the winter boots and why not polish the wood furniture while you’re at it? These are all things that are constructive and have to be done (eventually), but it becomes an issue when you can’t not be productive. When it’s your lifeline.

And I get it, I really do. There’s a never-ending list of things that have to be checked off when you’re an adult and own property and pay bills. Just add kids to the mix and you’re doing the work of two full-time jobs. This is an unavoidable part of being an adult, but it doesn’t have to be all the time. It’s okay to take a break.

6. You live in Canada (or somewhere with a similar climate).

I reside in Northern Ontario and we haven’t seen the sun in roughly six months. Not literally, we do have brighter days, but the amount of overcast weather we get during our winter season is unprecedented.

To give you some perspective: our snowbanks are taller than our vehicles, so it’s nearly impossible to get out of the driveway without playing Russian roulette because you literally can’t see who’s driving on either side. I mean, this year we hit snowfall records. Insurance companies are still being called off the hook because of people discovering water pouring out of their light fixtures.

But that’s what happens when you have four feet of snow on your roof alone, never mind what will transpire when the snowbanks against the houses start to melt. The bonus, I suppose, is that this long and arduous winter has left me so pale I practically blend in with the snow… But I digress.

7. You’re mentally exhausted.

Do you ever feel as though you could sleep for a week straight and still be tired? That no amount of physical rest will help you start thinking on your feet again, and that you can’t even remember the last time you could?

It’s time to recharge your batteries and unplug your digital ones. Disconnect from the internet, and reconnect with yourself. The reality of being human is that we can never anticipate when the next big stressor will hit, but we can do our best to respond in the healthiest ways we know how. And a big part of that is caring for ourselves and resting while we need to and can find the time.

8. You haven’t laughed in awhile.

My brother has a way of making me laugh like nobody else can. I’m not sure why exactly, but it has something to do with these three things: first, I treasure the moments I spend with him (he’s got a very demanding career); second, we’re only a year apart in age, so we’ve grown up together and have been around one another our whole lives; and third, we both get the hiccups when we laugh too much, which makes us laugh even more. Or maybe it’s just that he’s very funny.

Yet one thing I notice lately is that whenever he (or anyone else, for that matter) does make me laugh, it reminds me of just how seldom I do. Laughter is truly the best medicine, a salve against all the horrors and pains we endure in this life. If you haven’t laughed in awhile, maybe it’s time to step away, do something a little different, and focus on cultivating more joy.

9. You feel the need to reconnect.

When did you last spend some quality time alone with yourself — or your significant other, for that matter? Time uninterrupted by things such as work demands, digital devices, television programming or even other people (i.e. friends or children). Time spent relaxing, talking, eating or simply just being?

Do you feel as though every day, you’re going through the motions, waiting on the weekend? Maybe like me, you need a break. If finances allow, take that trip you’ve been longing to take. If they don’t allow, plan a budget-friendly weekend escape. It doesn’t have to be luxurious or lavish, it just has to take you out of the game for long enough to recharge your batteries, recenter your perspective and reconnect you to your life.

10. You are reading this article.

This year is the very first time I’m actively planning a trip, and it also coincides with the only time I’ve truly felt compelled to. If you’re familiar with my writing, you know that I’ve never written about traveling, because I’ve never been a huge traveler.

But I’ve had a very eventful 365 days and all of the above symptoms are starting to pop up in my life. And I’m a firm believer that stepping away for awhile can help us to gain invaluable perspective and replenish our energy. So if any of these signs ring true to you, or even just the fact that you clicked on the article in the first place, then maybe that’s your intuition telling you to take a break.

In any event, this is me trying to listen to mine.